The big circumcision debate has people all over the world fired up. Kids Health reported that approximately 55% to 65% of all newborn boys are circumcised in the United States each year, but this number continues to fall as more parents are claiming to be ‘intactivists’ or anti-circumcision.
They consider circumcision to be male genital mutilation. Some believe that it is a cruel practice and would like to see it outlawed in the United States and everywhere else. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports, “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks.” At the same time, the scientific evidence is not strong enough for the AAP to recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys. Circumcision is already NOT the norm in most of Europe, Central America, South America and Asia. Will uncircumcised be the new norm in the United States? In the end, it is the parents’ decision to educate themselves and make the best possible decision for their baby.
In addition to medical reasons, religion may also play a role when discussing circumcision, and it deserves to be a serious factor when the decision is made. Even though circumcision has medical benefits, it also brings possible risks – as any surgery does. The risks during a circumcision are small – between 0.2% and 2% - but we should be aware of the possible advantages and potential problems before we make a decision.
Circumcised infants are less likely to develop urinary tract infections. Even with the increased risk, only about 1% of uncircumcised males will be affected. Circumcised males might be at a lower risk for penile cancer, although the disease is rare in both circumcised and uncircumcised males. It has been said that circumcision helps protect against sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. It is more common for an uncircumcised male to develop penile problems such as red irritation, inflammation and infection.
We have scoured the internet on the topic of circumcision. Both sides have compelling arguments. We found 15 parents who made the decision not to circumcise their newborn sons. At some point these parents felt regret about their decision. Don’t get your foreskin in a bunch - These stories are not meant to scare you, but simply to help us understand that the risks and benefits will go both ways.
15Puzzled By Physician
Jonah, 18 months, was taken to a well-baby visit by his mother. The doctor pushed the boy’s foreskin back (hard) in order to see his entire glands, which were oozing with blood. The doctor told Jonah’s mother she must do this every time she baths her son or he “will need to be circumcised for sure.”
Ever since that doctors visit Jonah would scream when he was changed, he was always restless, and seemed as if he was in pain. Jonah’s mother questioned the doctors cleaning methods and felt it wasn’t necessary to hurt the boy in order to clean him.
After doing some research and seeking a second opinion, they found that Jonah had 'PFFR,' or Premature Forcible Foreskin Retraction. According to Psychology Today, an estimate that this incidence occurs in the U.S. at more than 100,000 cases per year. It was hard for Jonah’s mother to see her baby in pain and the feeling of regret was in the air.
14A Tad Tight For Ted
When Ted was born 22 years ago his parents decided not to circumcise him. His father had a circumcision gone wrong so he felt strongly about the decision not to circumcision their son. It turns out Ted was born with a short frenulum, which means the foreskin cannot be pulled back. His parents did their best to keep it clean and they made it through adolescence without any problems.
When Ted reached high school he knew something wasn’t right. He was unable to form an erection and it affected his sexual activity. Ted became shy and standoff(ish) towards girls. He was a teenage boy so of course he wasn’t comfortable talking with his parents about his sex life – or lack thereof. It wasn’t until college that Ted did the research to find out what the problem was and how to work around it.
During intercourse it had always been a little tight but with enough lubricant (in most cases vaginal fluid) he could slowly ease it in and it would all be fun and games from there. One day when Ted was trying to be quick about things, it was too dry and he had pulled his foreskin back so far it tore his frenulum, which then caused him to bleed a unbelievable amount. He sent pictures of the boxers and towels covered in blood to his parents with a text message reading “this could have been avoided.” It’s safe to say his parents felt terrible. Ted ultimately decided to get a circumcision at the age of 22. He said the pain was horrendous and he will never forget the trauma he went through.
13Henry Heated Up
Henry was born with a sever birth defect called spina bifida and spent a good bit of time in the NICU after he was born. When the Urologist came to see him and talked as if a circumcision would happen it took his mother a lot of strength to hold back the wrath of her feelings. She politely cut him off by saying Henry had enough surgeries to worry about and he would not be getting an optional circumcision to top it all off. The choice not to circumcise, for her, was a no brainer.
A one percent risk of UTIs wasn’t compelling enough for her to consider circumcision for Henry, but all that changed one afternoon when he was six months old. She went to check on him during a nap and found his cheeks bright red and his whole body burning up. She didn’t believe the thermometer when it read a whopping 105.7 degrees.
Henry’s mother learned that the cause was a urinary tract infection. Something statistically uncommon, but potentially very serious. They would never know for sure what caused it. After talking with other moms she learned circumcision had, for some, helped cut the incidence drastically. Instantly, she felt a surge of guilt and questions if she made the right decision for her son.
12Following In Their Father’s Footsteps
Maci found out she was pregnant by her short term boyfriend. When they received the news they were having a son, Maci left it up to her boyfriend to make the decision on whether or not the baby would be circumcised. The father was not circumcised and decided he did not want his son to be circumcised. Their son, now 4 years old, is thriving and healthy.
Maci and her boyfriend did not stay together. She found a new man and got married and is now pregnant with her second son. Maci’s husband is circumcised and feels strongly that his son WILL be circumcised. Maci’s ex, the father of her first son, is out of the picture and now she is questioning her decision not to circumcise their son. She is seriously considering having him circumcised at the age of four so that he will be like his brother and stepfather. She regrets her decision to let the father decide without doing her own research.
11A Getaway And Grandparents
Josie and her husband made the decision not to circumcise their son. They did extensive research before they made their decision and made sure to follow all of the steps to properly clean and care for their uncircumcised baby. After three months the new parents were ready for a weekend getaway. They left baby Jax in the care of his grandparents.
Grandparents - we can’t live with them and can’t live without them. We love having grandparents around, but sometimes they let our modern parenting styles fly out the window when we walk out the door. When Josie returned home from her trip she found that her son had not been properly cleaned.
Jax was red, swollen and in pain. It turns out he had balanitis, which is an inflammation at the end of the penis, and in this case, caused by poor hygiene. According to Medical News Today, balanitis is most likely to affect boys under the age of four and one in twenty five boys who are uncircumcised will develop balanitis. Jax’s mother felt terrible when she watched her baby go through an excruciating cleaning process.
10The Big Squeeze
Evan’s parents chose not to circumcise their son when he was born. The decision was easy for them, however, the reasons behind their decision aren’t what we expect to hear. Evan’s mother had the umbilical cord blood tested before he was born. Evans father’s side has a family history of hemophilia and it turns out Evan would inherit the condition.
Hemophilia is an inherited disorder that causes abnormal bleeding. The bleeding occurs because part of the blood - specifically the plasma - doesn’t have enough protein to help the blood clot. This condition can cause heavy or dangerous bleeding after a male circumcision. With this information, Evan’s parents felt their decision was easy.
It wasn’t until middle school when Evan’s parents started to question their decision. Evan complained that it felt like his penis was being squeezed or vacuum sealed when it was cold outside. It became painful at school one day and Evan started to cry and ran to the bathroom. His friends followed to check on him and when they saw that he looked different the jokes started to fly. That day after school was the first time Evans parents talked to him about circumcision and why they decided not to do it. After spending his high school years feeling embarrassed, Evan ultimately made the decision to get an adult circumcision at the age of 19. His mother took him to the procedure and took care of him afterwards. She hated to see her son feeling ashamed for so many years, but even worse, she hated to see her grown son in physical pain.
9All About Chance
Chance was not circumcised as a baby. He believes that his birth parents made the decision not to circumcise him due to financial reasons. At the age of three he was placed into foster care for six months. The first family to foster Chance ended up adopting him within a year. Chance was lucky to find such a nice loving family in the foster system in a short amount of time.
After numerous infections, Chance, his adopted parents and their pediatrician sat down to discuss the options. With the approval of Chance, the decision was made for him to be circumcised. He was in 6th grade when the procedure was done. He described it as the worst pain he has ever experienced. He felt angry that his birth parents didn’t make the decision for him as an infant. He was thankful that his adoptive parents took care of him.
Chance is grown up and married now. His wife has said she is thankful he got the circumcision because it is what she prefers. However, Chance has his own son now and - with his wife - made the decision not to circumcise their son. Instead, Chance has vowed to be there for his son and make sure he is given proper care at all times.
Eric was born in Germany and moved to the United States with his parents when he was twelve. He was on his high school swim team and also played water polo. Eric and his teammates were best friends but he was different in one way. It wasn’t the fact that he was not an American or that English was his second language, it was because he was the only kid on the water polo team who wasn’t circumcised. His teammates nicknamed him wasserball, which in German means water polo.
The fact that Eric wasn’t circumcised affected him a lot. He begged his parents to allow him to get circumcised when he was fourteen years old, but they did not think it was necessary and did not allow it. His parents stood back while he was teased through high school and the harassment continued when he started college. When he was old enough to make his own medical decisions Eric went to see a urologist in Atlanta, GA. He had done research on adult circumcision and found many horror stories but that didn’t stop him from going through with it. He had his mother by his side the day of the surgery and when it was over she apologized for making him wait for so long.
Nicole is a perfectionist and she has been this was her entire life. It didn’t surprise anyone when she studied up on circumcision after she found out she was having a boy. Nicole made a list of pros and cons, talked to numerous professionals, and with her husband ultimately made the decision not to circumcise their son. After all, as long as she kept her baby clean, which she would being someone who likes to do things properly, then he would not get any infections and everything would be fine. Nicole’s son, Danny, was a perfect, healthy and uncircumcised baby boy. He did not have any problems until he went to preschool.
Nicole went to pick her son up from school one day and to her surprise the police were there to speak with her. When they started asking questions it was a mother’s worst nightmare. Danny’s teacher noticed that he looked uncomfortable and he kept scratching himself so she sent him to the nurse. The nurse (without consent) checked Danny’s penis and found a white-ish substance and a foul smell was present. She immediately felt there was a sign of sexual abuse and called the police.
It turns out Danny was absolutely not exposed to any type of abuse. He had signs of smegma, which is harmless. It is caused by the shedding of skin cells and in Danny’s case it had started to build up. Nicole was mortified at the whole situation and felt that she had failed her son by not keeping him clean enough. That night she cried to her husband wondering if they made the right decision for their child.
6Sam’s Sexual Sensitivities
As an infant, Sam was not circumcised. He made it through childhood with only a few minor mishaps. When he was two he developed an infection. His parents got him seen by a doctor and the problem was resolved quickly. As a teenager, he developed chronic persistent infections. Nothing he did could stop them from reoccurring.
Eventually, Sam needed to be circumcised. It was awful! In addition to the pain and bleeding Sam experienced another problem. He had developed his sexual sensitivities with his foreskin, which made it much harder for him to feel pleasure without one. Sam and his parents wished he had been circumcised as an infant.
We know that every circumcision case is different and each male will experience different feelings. We do not doubt Sam’s feelings, however, according to Psychology Today, researchers in Australia and at the University of Washington reviewed studies of circumcision’s sexual impact and concluded that it neither decreases penile sensitivity nor impairs men’s sexual function or satisfaction.
5Pull It Back
Luanne and her husband were wary about the decision on whether or not to circumcise their son. When their son was born they still did not have a solid agreement on what to do. They ended up skipping the circumcision with the idea in mind that they could always go back and get it done if it was necessary. Their son went through childhood without any problems.
When their ten year old came to them asking for a circumcision they were stunned. Luanne felt guilt immediately asking her son why? What happened and what changed? After one doctors visit they got answers.
Luanne’s 10 year old son may need to be circumcised because his foreskin has grown to the head of his penis. The doctor could pull it back on one side but not the other. The boy knew to pull back the foreskin to clean but he obviously wasn’t pulling it back all the way.
Tina’s sixteen year old son wanted to be circumcised. He felt that it is abnormal to not be circumcised, but, more importantly, his sex ed classes at school had apparently told the kids that it is much safer and healthier to be circumcised. Tina took her son to a urologist and the discussion about the process of a circumcision went on for more than a year.
The boy finally did it in conjunction with a hernia repair that needed to be done. His foreskin was particularly tight so it made cleaning difficult and painful. It was painful after surgery, but in the end he felt it was worth it. His father was circumcised in his late 20's on entering the army in World War II, so the boy had a family role model! They also celebrated it as a coming-of-age experience and gave him an Indian arrow with a flint arrowhead from a store on Solano Avenue.
3The Emotional Toll
Caleb is eleven years old and angry at his parents. They divorced when he was young and they are both remarried quickly. His mother has two sons who are circumcised and his father has one son who is also circumcised. Caleb is the only boy in his family who is not circumcised which may be why he feels like a loner and left out.
When Caleb’s father and stepmother were discussing yet another baby brother who would be circumcised, Caleb flipped out. He yelled at his father for making him feel different. He said he hated the way he looked and threatened to circumcise himself if his father did not take him to a doctor. His father felt terrible when he realized the emotional toll it took on Caleb.
Caleb’s mother and father came together to help their son. While they did not agree to immediately take him to get circumcised for no reason they did agree to see a urologist and discuss the options. There was one condition. Caleb had to agree to also talk to a psychiatrist as well. His mother felt there was something more than just the circumcision going on and she wanted to get to the bottom of Caleb’s problems. The whole process was exhausting and hurtful on the whole family.
2What Are Best Friends For?
Bethany had yeast infections throughout her pregnancy. When her baby boy was born he developed oral thrush, which is a very common infection in infants that causes irritation in and around a baby's mouth. It is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast. The baby was treated with topical antifungal medicines and they were sent home.
After a few days at home with her newborn, Bethany was having a rough day. The baby would not stop crying and mom was exhausted. She called a friend, who is conveniently a nurse, to come over and give her some relief. When the nurse arrived she took the baby and sent Bethany to bed.
It was less than a half hour before Bethany was awaken by her friend in a panic. Something was wrong! The baby’s penis was bright red and leaking fluid. His diapers were dry so he obviously had not been urinating. After a trip to the hospital, Bethany found out her newborn baby had balanoposthitis, which can be caused by exposure to bacteria, fungus or yeast. Bethany immediately regretted her decision not to have her son circumcised. Her and her husband made the decision to have their baby boy circumcised at thirteen days old.
This story takes co-parenting to a whole new level. Dennis Nebus, the father of Chase, a three-year-old Florida boy, wants his son to be circumcised. Chase’s mother, Heather Hironimus, wants Chase to grow up with an intact foreskin. Now Florida’s courts are involved, and the case is turning the spotlight back on the contentious debate between pro– and anti–male circumcision activists.
Chases mother signed an agreement stating that the father would handle the circumcision including taking Chase to his appointments and paying all the related costs. When it came time for the appointments Hironimus backed out. She felt so much regret just from signing the papers and she could not let her boy go through with it. She now considers herself to be an 'intactivist' - someone who considers circumcision to be male genital mutilation and works to ensure that boys retain their foreskin.
Chase’s father has not publicly stated why he feels so strongly about his son getting a circumcision. Heather Hironimus spent nine days in jail before signing papers – while sobbing - to allow her son to be circumcised.
Sources: KidsHealth, PsychologyToday, Reddit, YahooNews, MedicalNewsToday, WebMD, PsychologyToday
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